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Safety Student Life

How to Stay Safe in College

July 1, 2021

College can be a crazy and scary new step in every incoming freshman’s life. Whether attending college in your hometown or 6+ hours away, it is important to stay safe on and off campus. A new location and responsibilities can leave you vulnerable. Below are tips that new college kids need to remember on how to be safe during the school year.

Tips:

  • Stay aware and travel in groups.
  • Save the phone numbers of campus police and town police.
  • Be aware of the safety and mental health services provided on campus including rides, hotlines and blue safety lights.
  • Join the local/campus safety Facebook for look-outs and warnings.
  • Share schedules with friends and roommates. 
  • Learn about any dangerous parts around town

College is a time for you to meet new people, gain an education and learn new experiences. Have fun and get the most out of your time in college but remember that safety is really important when going out. Most stories you might hear occur when girls are going out in the middle of night. You may also hear stories where people say they had a really an unpleasant feeling before something bad happened. Don’t be afraid to leave if you’re uncomfortable in a situation. Sometimes your gut knows more than you. The best thing you can do is learn from your mistakes and the experiences of others. Below are good tips to remember when going out.

Tips:

  • Always have a designated driver or call an Uber/Lift.
  • Go out with people that you can trust and will take care of you.
  • Never take a drink offered by someone unless you saw them make it. 
  • Share plans or locations when going out or on a date.

If you are left with one piece of information before you go off to college, it should be:

Be aware, use your common sense, but most importantly go live your life at college!

BIO: Emily Bruchmiller is a Senior at Texas Tech University. She is double majoring in Marketing and Management. She is interning at GradGuard for the summer. She loves to spend time with her friends, hiking, and going to new places in her free time.

Health Safety Student Life

How to Stay Healthy When Heading Back to Campus

June 9, 2021

The thought of returning to campus after spending the last year learning from home is exciting, but might also seem a little overwhelming. It’s easy for flu and cold viruses to spread in school environments. How can you stay healthy when making your return?

Go Back Prepared

Travel-sized hand sanitizer can be beneficial. Hand sanitizer is great to have around if you use a bathroom that is out of soap or touch something in a heavily trafficked space and there’s no sink nearby. Also stay vigilant about washing your hands. Staying in this practice will keep you from spreading germs and keep you healthier overall.

Take Your Vitamins

Vitamins and supplements can do a lot to help you maintain good health year round.  USANA Health Sciences offers supplements that include important antioxidants and immune-boosting vitamin D and core minerals that your body needs for cell health. Antioxidants give your body the ability to protect against free radicals, which build up when your body breaks down food or takes in tobacco smoke. 

Develop an Exercise Routine

Exercise plays a huge role in keeping you healthy and your immune system strong. Exercise causes change in antibodies and white blood cells that affects the immune system in a positive way. Exercising regularly also helps keep you at a healthy weight which can fight disease. 

Plus, being active keeps you outside in fresh air, where viruses don’t spread as easily. To reap the benefits of exercise, you should workout three to five times a week for 30 minutes a day. This might seem tough when you’re busy with classes and extracurriculars, but it’s important to make exercise a priority. 

Make an Effort to Eat Healthy

It’s no surprise that in addition to adding exercise to your regime, a healthy and balanced diet will help keep you well as you head back to campus. You should eat a variety of foods and avoid processed foods. Processed foods are more likely to be high in saturated fats. Research shows that diets high in saturated fats may contribute to a less healthy immune system. 

Also eat plenty of veggies and fruits of all different colors. Eating greens like spinach have huge benefits to your health and wellness. Spinach is rich in antioxidants and vitamin C, so you get double the effect in giving your body the nutrients you need. Foods like bell peppers, garlic and broccoli also have positive effects on health. 

Sometimes you’ll have to eat fast food or eat out. Try and look for healthy options on menus and make a point to add in greens. Green smoothies are a great way to incorporate a quick, healthy meal on the go.

As you head back to campus, there are many habits you can incorporate into your daily life to support your health. Being mindful of your mental health is just as important as taking care of your physical health. It’s smart to protect yourself from an unexpected medical withdrawal with tuition insurance. Keep these tips in mind as you prepare for the fall!

BIO: Brett Clawson has a degree in Business Management and has started a couple of small businesses. When he’s not focusing his time on those, he spends time with his wife and two sons. His oldest son has entered the wonderful realm of college, and he now enjoys sharing tips that he and his son have found essential for college life.

Safety

Cybersecurity Measures to Take as a Remote College Student

March 16, 2021

Remote learning has become the norm for many college students all over the country. It was already growing in popularity over the last several years. But, the COVID-19 pandemic created a boom in remote learning to keep everyone safe.

Moving into a post-pandemic world, remote learning is here to stay for some. It’s extremely beneficial for those who need a flexible schedule or anyone who might be looking for a more affordable way to attend college.

But, for all of the benefits, there are also some potential drawbacks and risks. One of the biggest concerns for remote college students should be cybersecurity and knowing how to keep yourself safe online. While you might not have to deal with things like on-campus crime, cyber criminals can do just as much damage with your personal information.

Here’s what you can do to protect yourself from cybercrime as a remote college student.

Understand the Risks

Any time you submit personal information online, it can be a risk. Educate yourself ahead of time on your college’s cybersecurity program(s) and privacy policies.

A school’s cybersecurity priorities should include:

  • Network monitoring
  • Data monitoring
  • Protective controls
  • Network segmentation
  • Password management
  • Vulnerability scanning

If your college is offering remote learning opportunities, they should be upfront about the security measures they have in place. Their IT department should be available to work with you as often as possible, and it should be easily accessible.

You should also put some measures in place at home to keep yourself as safe as possible, especially if you’re giving out financial or medical information. Invest in security measures that medical services use, like antivirus software, and make sure you never give personal information to any school website that isn’t secure.

Keep Yourself Safe – Wherever You Are

One of the perks of being a remote student is that you can take classes anywhere. But, when you’re off-campus, you might not have a strong cybersecurity system in place to keep you safe from threats. It’s important to know what to look out for when it comes to those threats, so you can reduce your risk of an attack.

Some of the most common cyber threats are:

  • Phishing emails
  • Denial of service
  • Malware programs

It’s also important to be aware of “man-in-the-middle” attacks. These occur when a perpetrator steps into a digital conversation, usually when you’re trying to get help. For example, if you’re having problems with a software program or website, you might see a chatbot pop up. A perpetrator can pose as someone offering to help you, but their main goal is to steal information. Be aware of red flags asking for too much information or things that aren’t relevant to the conversation.

Educating yourself on these threats (and others) can keep you from becoming a victim of viruses or having your personal information stolen.

The risk of cybersecurity threats shouldn’t keep you from taking college courses online. But, knowing that the risks are out there and how you can keep yourself safe from them is a crucial component in the success of your remote learning process.

BIO: Dan Matthews is a writer with a degree in English from Boise State University. He has extensive experience writing online at the intersection of business, finance, marketing, and culture.

Safety Student Life

Protecting Your Apartment From Winter Weather

December 21, 2020

Snow may look great outside your home, but you should make sure you know how to deal with it if it ever gets out of control or threatens your safety.

Here are a few quick tips to make sure you’re safe at home for the rest of the winter, especially if there’s a storm:

One basic way to protect your home or apartment from snow is shoveling. Buy a medium-sized shovel and make sure that walkways and sidewalks are completely clear after a storm. Shoveling helps you and your neighbors stay safe from black ice and other post-snowstorm dangers. It’s also a smart idea to use salt on any walkways to help melt ice quickly. As always, be careful while you’re out there clearing things up! Inside, make sure to have welcome mats so everyone can clean off their boots before entering, and eliminate tracking water into the house that could lead to slips and falls. You don’t want to be liable for any injuries at home!

Another way to keep your place safe and sound during a storm is by checking up on the heat. During a storm, there’s always a chance that you may lose power. Be sure to keep the heat running—keep yourself and your roommates warm just in case! If your heat does not appear to be working properly, be sure to talk to your landlord ASAP—don’t get stuck in the cold during a storm.

One thing tenants may forget about is ice buildup in unusual places. For example, ice can freeze and accumulate at a rapid rate in your downspout or other exposed pipes. If enough snow builds up in the pipes, there could be disastrous results. Make sure to check with neighbors, roommates and landlords to be sure that your pipes stay ice-free, especially after a big blizzard.

An important snow safety tip for your apartment is be prepared. If a big snowstorm is in the future, make sure you’ve taken care of everything ahead of time at home. Be sure to keep blankets and flashlights out in the open in case your heat or power goes out. If it looks like a blizzard could last for days at a time, stock up on plenty of food and household essentials like soap and toilet paper, just in case you won’t be able to get to the grocery store for while. If you have a car, put it in the garage or an area where it won’t get snowed in.

If you’re not sure about the state of your apartment for the rest of the winter, talk to your landlord to discuss any concerns. It’s important that you’re 100% sure your place will be safe during a storm or blizzard—peace of mind is key during the wintertime. Also, consider renters insurance to help cover your personal belongings and protect what’s important in your home in the event of an accident.

Stay safe for the rest of the winter! Spring is just around the corner!

This article was originally published in 2012 and has since been updated.

Safety

Safety for College Students Over the Holidays

December 3, 2020

With the holidays and subsequent winter break quickly approaching, it’s time to start making plans. As stressful as this time of year can be, especially now with the COVID-19 pandemic still in full swing, it’s imperative you’re taking the right precautions to keep your physical, emotional, and mental health safe.

Whether you’re traveling back home or staying in place this year, here are some tips worth keeping in mind over the upcoming winter break:

Brush Up on Road Safety Tips

Many students are most likely finding their travel plans up in the air this year. For some, flying back home is no longer a possibility as airplanes can be major hotspots for the spread of COVID-19. With that in mind, there’ll likely be more cars than usual on the road as people try to travel more safely back home. Beyond being a more attentive and cautious driver to better navigate the increase in traffic, it’s also important to remember basic safety tips if your car breaks down:

  • Be Prepared: Before you hit the road, pack your car with an emergency kit that includes essentials such as water, blankets, personal safety accessories, and first aid necessities. It may take a while for help to reach you if you get stuck in a snowbank in a remote area or the like, so it’s always a good idea to be prepared in case you have to wait a bit.
  • Stay With Your Vehicle: If you’re in a hurry and break down, it might be tempting to start walking towards the nearest gas station or town, but that can be dangerous. You could be injured by other drivers while walking or get lost in dangerously cold temperatures. If you have to walk, make sure you are as visible as possible to others.
  • Get Your Car Off of the Road (If Possible): The best-case scenario if you’re having car issues is to get on the shoulder of the road; however, that’s not always possible. If you break down in the middle of the road, most cars can still be steered to a safe waiting area with the help of another passenger. If you’re traveling alone though, the risks that come with trying to steer and push your car to the shoulder are sometimes more dangerous than breaking down on the road itself. If you can’t move, make yourself as visible as possible with your hazards, flares, flags, or reflectors to avoid accidents.

Of course, the ideal situation is that you’ll arrive at your destination without any hiccups — but on the off chance that something does go awry, knowing what to do can keep you safe and get you back on the road faster. 

Practice Self-Regulation to Combat Stress

This year has been an extremely difficult time for several reasons: sudden campus closures, remote learning difficulties, canceled social events, and more. And now, many students are feeling the mental and emotional health strain of not being able to go back home to see loved ones during major holidays. 

Learning more about self-regulation skills and utilizing them is a great and healthier way for students, beyond the pandemic and holidays, to handle stressors. Additionally, self-regulation skills make things such as completing assignments, regulating our emotions, and preparing for upcoming semesters more manageable. Of course, this can be helpful for anyone, regardless of age or station in life, but with higher rates of depression and anxiety among young adults, developing self-regulation skills and anticipating setbacks can be critical to being safer and more successful.

Don’t Be Afraid to Get Professional Help

If there was only one word to sum up this year, a strong contender would likely be disappointment. With most major social events such as Rush Week, homecoming, and school games being canceled, along with internships, performances, and other extracurricular activities, this year is disappointing for a lot of students. Of course, these are necessary precautions to ensure the safety of campuses and communities, but it can still be hard to come to terms with.

Luckily, there are resources to help you if you find yourself struggling to cope with everything this year. Moreover, with the increased use of telemedicine thanks to COVID-19, setting up virtual sessions with a therapist or campus counselor is easier than ever. Check your campus-provided counseling resources to see if they’re a fit for you and your needs or, if you’re under 26 years old and still on your parent’s insurance, set up an appointment with your healthcare provider to get a referral. It’s okay to need a little extra help sorting through your emotions during this crisis, especially while also juggling your academic life. 

AUTHOR BIO: Sam Bowman has a passion for learning. As a seasoned professional writer, he specializes in topics about people, education, tech and how they merge. In his spare time he likes running, reading, and combining the two in a run to his local bookstore.

Safety Student Life

Campus Crime and Student Safety

November 24, 2020

When you think about college, it’s typical to think of all the positive experiences and encounters you will have as a student. Whether it’s getting excited about your major, dorm life, making new friends, and gaining independence, most college students are ready for all the new adventures college has to offer. Unfortunately, campus crime becomes a part of the conversation too. Crimes such as burglary, sexual assault, hazing, and theft are some of the most common crimes that occur on or near college campuses. Here are ways to minimize the chances of being a victim of campus crime and what to do if it does happen to you. 

Protect valuable items.

  • If you have jewelry, designer clothes, shoes, or other items that may put a target on your for thieves, consider leaving those items at home.
  • Look into buying a renters insurance policy to protect the stuff you do decide to bring with you to campus, such as your backpack and laptop.
  • Be mindful of who you invite over. Make sure valuables are hidden or locked away safely.
  • Take pictures of your stuff in case you do become a victim of theft or malicious damage. That will help you file a claim for reimbursement through your renters insurance policy.

Travel in pairs or groups with people that you know. 

  • Use the buddy system when attending an event or a party. This is especially important if you’re a young woman who may be at greater risk.
  • Share your location with friends and let someone know when you plan to return.
  • Never leave someone alone in a vulnerable or uncomfortable situation. If necessary, leave as a group and make other plans instead.

Be smart on social media.

  • Don’t share when you’re away from your dorm or residence hall.
  • Avoid geotagging and sharing your location on photos, videos, and other posts that would reveal your current location.
  • Think twice about sharing any sensitive information online, including any revealing details about where you live or work.

Have a plan.

  • When going out, especially at night, let someone know where you’re going and when you plan to return.
  • Walk with confidence, and avoid looking confused even if you’re going somewhere you haven’t been before.
  • Don’t use headphones or keep your head down looking at your phone when you’re walking.
  • Download safety apps to turn your phone into a pocket-sized security guard.

From making new friends to becoming independent, there are a lot of positive things to look forward to as a new college student. Overall, it should be fun. Bt with this comes the responsibility of staying as safe. Sometimes college students think campus is one big protective bubble. But that’s not always the case, unfortunately. Remember these tips for staying safe!

Other Safety

Top 3 Reasons College Tuition Insurance Is a Smart Decision

July 13, 2020

When college families and their students are discussing college, the topic of money always comes up in the conversation. For good reason too! Did you know that the combination of tuition, fees, and room and board charges average between $20,000-$50,000 a year?

For many college families, the expense of a higher education is one of the largest investments they will make. Since there is so much money at stake, we suggest that college parents make a plan in case their student is forced to withdraw from school due to severe injury or illness. Of course, if you are one of the few families out there that can afford to lose your large investment, then tuition insurance may not be necessarily needed for you.

However, for most of the twenty million college students and their families, the financial loss of an entire college semester is a burden big enough to break the bank. As a result, college families are smart to consider the purchase of tuition insurance prior to the start of the school semester.

3 Reasons Tuition Insurance is a Smart Decision

  1. If you can’t afford to lose the tuition paid for a semester at school – Tuition insurance can provide up to 100% refund of your expenses in the instance that a student gets severely ill or injured and needs to completely withdraw from the university due to a covered reason.
  2. If your school does not provide a 100% refund – Do you know what your school’s refund policy is? A majority of school refund policies do not extend beyond the fifth week of the semester, and many don’t refund the full cost after the first week of classes. Be sure to check with your school to see what their refund policy is so you can see how much of your money is at risk.
  3. If you have additional academic expenses – Even if the school does provide you with a 100% refund for tuition, most schools do not refund academic fees or student housing. Many tuition insurance plans can provide coverage for academic fees and student housing in addition to tuition.

Student health incidents like illnesses, accidents, and mental health conditions happen frequently, even to young and healthy college students. The good news is that college families can protect their investment by purchasing tuition insurance! Visit our website at www.gradguard.com/tuition to see the plans available on your campus!

Other Safety

Students Remain Vulnerable to Losses from Campus Fires & Crime

August 20, 2019

Growth in campus fires and crimes confirm the value of renters insurance for college students.

More than 3 million college students are preparing to move into on-campus student housing and dorms.  While living on campus is proven to help promote greater college completion, students are often living independently for the first time and are vulnerable to unique risks. 

According to an analysis of nearly a decade of Clery Act reports on Campus Safety of more than 6,000 colleges and universities, annually there are more than 37,000 crime and safety incidents on college campuses. Further, there are 1,726 fires reported within on-campus student housing.

With so much money at stake, John Fees, co-founder of GradGuard, “suggests that college students and families make-aplan in case your student’s property is damaged by a fire or water damage or if they are found responsible for unintentional damages they may cause.”

The Top 3 Reasons GradGuard’s Renters Insurance is a Smart Decision for College Students:

  1. If you can’t afford to replace your backpack, bicycle or computer. – Renters insurance can replace your stolen or damaged property.  Renters insurance can cover those costs and help you get back to classes, without the added stress of a financial loss.
  2. If your school does not replace stolen or damaged property. – In a 2017 survey of student housing leaders, 98% of schools report that they do not replace stolen or damaged student property. Be sure to check with your school to see what their policy is and how much money is at risk. 
  3. If you can’t afford to pay for damages you cause. True renters insurance includes personal liability protection and can help pay for unintentional damages when a student cannot.

GradGuard’s renters insurance policy is designed for college students living either on or off-campus.    GradGuard’s renters insurance contains an exclusive student endorsement that provides affordable coverage ideal for college life and provides both personal property and liability protection:

  • Worldwide property coverage (for study abroad or mid-term trips);
  • Aa low-deductible starting at $100;
  • Replacement cost coverage. 

According to Fees, ‘For about 50-cents a day, students can protect their students’ belongings against losses, making renters insurance a must-have consideration for college families. In fact, 84% of state insurance commissioners recommend students obtain renters insurance. Whether you are living on or off-campus,  college students and their families are smart to consider purchasing renters insurance before the start of school.”

Other Safety

5 Safety Apps Every College Student Should Know About

May 14, 2019

The college years are some of the most exciting years in a person’s life. They’re all about exploring interests, experiencing life, and learning from mistakes. As fun as college can be, there’s also a great deal of responsibility that comes with being on your own for the first time. One of the most important aspects of this responsibility is ensuring your personal safety.

As a college student, you’re likely to face a unique set of dangers being on a campus setting. Whether it’s theft, assault, drugs/alcohol, or cybersecurity threats, they will all present themselves in different ways. It’s likely that you’ll encounter one or more of these issues, but it’s how you handle the situation that will help you emerge from it safely. Being both educated and prepared are some of the best ways to stay safe. Thankfully, there have been significant advancements made in technology that have been developed to help protect today’s college students.

Whether you’re going off to college for the first time or already have a few years under your belt, you’ll want to check out these five safety apps that every college student should be aware of.

Circle of 6

This app is the perfect way for college students to feel safe when walking home at night. Just simply download the app and set up your “circle” which is essentially your six emergency contacts who will be notified in an emergency. If you are in any form of danger, you can tap the icons inside the app twice and your circle will be sent a notification alerting them to the situation. Based on the icon you chose the app will send one of three texts to the circle:

  • GPS icon: “Come and get me. I need help getting home safely.”
  • Phone icon: “Call and pretend you need me. I need an interruption.”
  • Chat icon: “I need to talk.”

Rave Guardian

This app has been backed by many universities who have instilled this app on their own campuses. By sending out a simple message or anonymous tip you can be connected to your local university police station who will assist you with your situation. The app also has a feature to virtually assist you on your walk home. Simply notify the app when you leave and where you’re going, if you don’t notify them of your arrival after a set time period, the app will send someone to check on you.

Norton Secure VPN

Cybersecurity threats have become a growing concern for college campuses over the last decade. Between viruses, breaches, and phishing scams there can be a lot to protect your devices against. Having a virtual private network on your mobile devices can help safeguard your devices by encrypting your connection, making you invisible to outside cybercriminals. This can be invaluable in keeping your personally identifiable information from ending up in the wrong hands, or worse, becoming a victim of identity theft.

KiteString

While this application is more of a text-based service, it’s been praised as highly as other competing apps. The simplicity of this program is that you can text them when you’re going to be walking alone or in an uncomfortable situation with the amount of time that you’d like them to check in on you after. They’ll send you a check in text and you just simply reply that all is alright. If you don’t respond after that time, KiteString will send your emergency contacts a notification.

Revolar

As is true in most emergency situations, you don’t always have the time to open an app and respond immediately. Revolar’s app is connected through a wearable device that you can attach to a backpack or purse. Its simplicity makes it easy to press in a panic to have help sent to your location immediately. You can customize your alerts, messages, and contacts easily through the mobile app keeping the device seamlessly connected.

Be sure you stay safe out there with these apps from GradGuard and be sure to follow us on social media for more!

Other Safety

Online Dating in College

February 26, 2019

So here’s the thing. Dating in college is fun and all, but it can also be an absolute pain. You’re usually on a completely different page than the person you’re interested in, and sometimes a totally different book. Let’s face it, that person you met at the frat party last week is probably not texting you back any time soon, so let’s try something else. Online dating? It’s actually a really common thing now and makes things a lot easier; you can see what the other person is interested in via their profile, and what they are looking for. Simple right? Wrong. Here are some tips you can follow to remain safe and get the most out of online dating in college.

Do Your Research

You know what I mean. Put those FBI Facebook creeping skills to use and find the person you’re talking to on social media. Be sure that everything checks out. Make sure that they have friends, a solid following on Instagram, and add them on Snapchat. Snapchat is going to be your go-to window for seeing if the person you met through your dating app of choice is who they say they are. Talk to them on the phone too. Someone’s voice says a lot about them, so it’s always a good idea to sneak in a few phone calls before meeting. If these things don’t line up, then move on to the next one. Date smart and don’t set yourself up for a Catfish situation.

Meet Up in a Public Place

You really can’t be too careful when meeting up with someone that you met on the internet. Once you’ve been chatting with them for a while, done the Snapchatting, meet up with them at the campus coffee shop, ask them to grab lunch in a dining hall, or make a study date in the library. Don’t ask them to come over to your dorm room or apartment or go to theirs where no one else is at. Publicity is key!

Keep Your Friends Informed

If you’re making the step to meet up with someone that you met online, just keep at least 1 of your friends in the loop. Let them know that you are meeting up with a new person and tell them where you will be. It also isn’t a bad idea if you decide to have them on standby if you need an out. Give them a code word that you can text them if you are not having a good time, getting a bad vibe, etc. That way your friend can give you a call with an excuse for you to leave. Remember, you don’t need a solid reason to leave if you are uncomfortable.

Date Around, But Also Be Selective

The great thing about “dating” is that you are not really committed to one person. Don’t worry, they probably aren’t committed to you right away either. Really just take some time to play the field, but play it well. You’ll likely have a lot of options, but be sure that you are selective with your suitors. Don’t feel pressured to meet up with someone just because you’ve been talking to them. If you aren’t ready to or don’t want to, then don’t. Just don’t be mean and ghost someone. Be honest about how you feel and offer an alternative if you are feeling up to it. At the same time, be sure you put yourself out there enough for the new experiences. It can be a little daunting at first, but it gets easier as time goes on.

Have Fun!

You’re young and this is your chance to have the time of your life! Meet new people, even if it isn’t for the sake of dating them, plenty of friendships develop from online dating apps as well. Sometimes you meet someone who you don’t click with romantically, but still have fun with. So instead of going on dates, you just get together to drink coffee and play League of Legends. Like I said, strive for the new experiences and the fresh faces! If you meet someone you want to keep around for a while, that is an added bonus.

Online dating is fun while you are in college, just be sure that you do it wisely with these tips from GradGuard as you go forth with your suitors. Do your research, be open minded, keep your friends informed, and meet everyone in a public place first. Stay safe and have a good time!